Contested Land, Contested Memory is a beautifully written book that provides an essential perspective on a topic that could not be more urgent: the ongoing conflict in Israel/Palestine as it unfolds against the backdrop of two peoples’ tragic pasts. Working from interviews with scholars, activists, and ordinary people, Jo Roberts captures the voices of Jewish and Palestinian Israelis in all their diversity, pain, and eloquence. Deeply knowledgeable about the history and politics of the region and sensitive to the texture of individual lives, she brings together traumatic memories of the Holocaust and the Nakba without relativizing either history and without losing sight of the claims to justice that remain unfulfilled.
— Professor Michael Rothberg: Director of the Holocaust, Genocide, & Memory Studies Initiative at the University of Illinois
Displaced and traumatized European Jews saw the events of 1948 as an independence war; Palestinian Arabs, displaced and traumatized in their turn, saw this war as al-Nakba. This compelling and compassionate book offers fresh insight into how these divergent histories reverberate in Israel today, examining how selective memories of suffering that exclude the “other” impede reconciliation and a just peace.
— Mubarak Awad: founder, Palestinian Center for the Study of Nonviolence; founder & director, Palestinian Center for Democracy & Elections, West Bank & Gaza
Contemporary Israel is a land haunted by the ghosts of two staggering catastrophes. These ghosts live in the nightmarish knowledge of what was done by the Germans to the Jews of Europe and feed off denial of the raw injustice of what was done by Jews to the Arabs of Palestine. In this moving, lyrical, and very important book, with some of the bravest and most honest of Israelis and Palestinians as guides, Roberts offers readers an intimate, often searing tour of the country’s psychological landscape.
— Professor Ian Lustick: Bess W. Heyman Chair of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania; founder and past president of the Association for Israel Studies
The strength of this thoughtful book is not only its clear, cogent presentation of complex concepts, but also Jo Roberts’ skill in exploring the emotional history of Israelis and Palestinians. Given that emotions guide the political behavior of both parties, this nuanced, empathic, and knowledgeable book is an important read for supporters of each (or of both), and for people seeking a book through which to enter the charged field of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
— Hillel Cohen: Israeli historian & journalist, author of The Rise and Fall of Arab Jerusalem